Drop health bill, say unions

Arthur Hardy, left, with fellow Unison members outside the Kayll Road entrance to Sunderland Royal Hospital demonstrating against the Health and Social Care Bill

Arthur Hardy, left, with fellow Unison members outside the Kayll Road entrance to Sunderland Royal Hospital demonstrating against the Health and Social Care Bill

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PROTESTING hospital workers on Wearside urged the Government to drop their controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

Members of Unison stood outside the entrances to Sunderland Royal Hospital at a rally opposing the plans yesterday.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has faced fierce criticism over the new bill.

Changes set to be implemented will see GPs given control of budgets for patient care through new commissioning groups.

But critics of the proposals say that it could increase privatisation in the health service and see workers’ jobs cut.

Ann Clay, who is Wearside Health Unison branch secretary, said the changes were “scary”.

She added: “We thought it was important for us here in Sunderland to show our support for this.

“We need to let people know exactly what is going on with the NHS.

“I think the most scary thing it that there are still things that might be changed that we haven’t been told about.

“As a patient, I personally don’t believe it’s the right way to go about things.

“We’ve been through huge changes in the NHS in 2003 and 2005 and we don’t need this.”

Ms Clay agreed that certain changes to the health service do need to be made, but she disagreed with the plans drawn up by Mr Lansley and the Coalition Government.

“We need bringing up to speed,” she said.

“The NHS doesn’t need this many changes and GPs are saying they don’t want it. The NHS will always be here as long as people care about it.”

Trevor Johnston, Unison’s regional head of health for the North East, said: “In opposition, David Cameron told us that the NHS was safe in the Tories’ hands but this Bill shows us the truth.  

“It is flawed and dangerous and we know that patients and health workers will pay the price. It isn’t too late for Cameron and Clegg to listen to all those who love the NHS and drop the Bill.”

Unions also rallied at the University Hospital of North Durham, in Durham City, during the afternoon visiting period at the hospital.

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